On the days that I crawl out of the cave of beer and corn chips that I call my “office,” I will on occasion meet new people who, in the course of polite conversation, will ask about what I do for work. I’ll usually describe my job that pays my rent and utilities and then, almost as an afterthought, I’ll mention that I write. Although I know it’s weird, I have a hard time describing myself as a writer. This is probably due to the large number of people I know who call themselves writers, but seem to be far more interested in the lifestyle of a writer, or at least what they perceive to be the lifestyle of a writer. This usually amounts to imagining themselves to be the lovechildren of Hunter S. Thompson and Ernest Hemingway while drinking and smoking, but doing very little writing other than making sure you watch them write three or four words in their barely used Moleskin notebooks.
“Okay, repeat our conversation, but slower this time. I want to make sure to suck all of the fun out of our interaction.”
This is something, however, that I will need to get over because in order to succeed as a writer, I need to be able to promote my work and myself. I had this fantasy of a large publishing house with a massive marketing department doing this kind of thing for me, but alas, Random House is not yet banging down my door (Yet. They’ll come around). This means that it’s up to me and shameless self-promotion to get people to buy my book because really, I can only rely on my family to buy so many copies, and my dogs are lazy and haven’t gotten jobs so it’s not like they can bump up my numbers on Amazon (plus they’re not great with computers).
Pictured: Not my dog.
Even though I’m sure that writing is what I want to do, it’s still hard to get up the nerve to promote my stuff. I looked into hiring a publicist to do this kind of thing for me, but their services are much more expensive than I expected. This isn’t to say I don’t understand because hey, we’ve all gotta make a buck, but it gets a little disheartening after a while. I want to promote my work but I also don’t want to end up as that person whose emails get automatically filtered into the spam box either.
What I really should do is recruit people younger than me who are vastly more popular on the Internet to promote my writing, like my niece and nephew. My nephew has made real money through his Youtube videos (something I didn’t think was actually possible) and my niece is far more popular than I could ever hope to be. She has over 2,500 Facebook friends and she can post something like “It’s hot today,” and she’ll have 47 people like it within the first ten seconds. I totally get why she’s so popular: she’s pretty, smart, kind, and really funny; it’s just weird to come to terms with the fact that I will never be as popular as a teenager, even if my dreams of becoming the Next Great American Writer come true and my book lands at the top of the New York Times bestseller list with an Oprah sticker on the cover.
So, what is a self-conscious writer to do? The way I see it, I basically have two options: one, I can continue to be afraid to promote myself and turn into one of the “writers” I mentioned earlier with a Moleskin notebook and fantasies filled with typewriters, cigars and scotch.
Or, two, I can get over myself and learn to embrace the shameless self-promotion and whoring of my book that come with the territory of being a new writer. Does it feel weird and narcissistic? Yes, yes it does. But have I sold copies of my book by throwing my dignity aside and promoting my book to strangers? Yes, yes I have.
This book has been known to increase sexual prowess and attractiveness in those who purchase it. Sound too good to be true? Only one way to find out!
Self-promotion can be hard, but it’s how you get yourself out there when you’re a new writer. Learn to embrace how ridiculous you feel and it’ll get easier with time.
Oops, too late.
Written by: Emily Regan